Household Cleaners

Keep your kitchen and bathroom spotless with the right cleaning solutions

Household Cleaners

Kitchens and bathrooms are among the most frequently used rooms in your home, making them the most often in need of a good cleaning. Versatile all-purpose cleansers and glass cleaners will come in handy in both kitchens and bathrooms while other, more specialized solutions, such as toilet bowl cleaners, are utilized for specific tasks in one room or the other.

Keep in mind that some cleaners may have adverse effects on certain surfaces, so it's important to closely read the directions to make sure a given solution is safe for use on the area you are cleaning.

This guide will walk you through the different type of cleaners so you can be sure you’re using the right kind of cleanser for each surface.

All-Purpose vs. Kitchen vs. Bath Cleaners

All-purpose cleaners are the cleaning equivalent of duct tape. They come in handy in virtually every kitchen and bathroom and are indispensable for light and general cleaning tasks. They're also safe for use on most surfaces.

All-Purpose Cleaners and Degreasers

All-purpose cleaners should be an integral part of every collection of cleaning supplies. When used consistently, they'll do an excellent job of both keeping surfaces clean and preventing the buildup of stains that would require the use of heavy-duty cleaners to remove.

  • Most all-purpose cleaners are nonabrasive, making them safe for use on a wide range of surfaces, including cooktops, countertops, bath tubs, toilets and more.
  • Degreasers can be used to remove grease from oven knobs, cabinets and more.
  • Use glass cleaner to remove spots and streaks from microwave and oven doors, mirrors and medicine cabinets.
  • Drain cleaners can be used on sinks, toilets, showers, whirlpools and more to quickly clear up clogs.
  • Some drain blockages may require professional assistance.

Kitchen Cleaners

Among the objects and surfaces you'll need to clean in the kitchen are countertops, sinks, ovens, microwaves, cabinets and refrigerators. In many cases, the surfaces you're cleaning may be susceptible to scratching, so you'll want to avoid using abrasive cleansers.

If you're unsure of whether or not a cleaning solution is safe for use on a cabinet, test it on a small spot on the inside of the door to make sure it doesn't mar the surface.

  • Oven cleaners are designed to cut through the grease and grime that build up over time inside your oven as food cooks. Some are designed for use in both hot and cold ovens.
  • Use disinfectants on sinks and countertops to eliminate germs and bacteria.
  • Choose cleaners that are safe for use on the different surfaces you have in your kitchen.
  • Use liquid kitchen wax to protect the surface of wooden cabinets.
  • A solution of baking soda and water can be used to clean the interior of a refrigerator.
  • Oven cleaner may not be safe for use on self-cleaning ovens.
  • Solid-surface materials with matte finishes can be cleaned with abrasive cleansers.
  • Wait until hot surfaces have cooled before cleaning to avoid injury and damaging surfaces.
  • Use nonabrasive cleaning solutions when washing delicate surfaces.
  • Fume-free cleaners are less likely to irritate nasal passages and lungs.
  • Consult manufacturer's instructions before cleaning individual appliances.

Bathroom Cleaners

Bathrooms present a wealth of cleaning challenges, ranging from hard water stains in the toilet to soap scum in the sink to mildew in the shower.

  • Mineral deposits, such as calcium and lime, are very tough to remove and may require the use of an acid-based product. Such products can be effective, but they may also damage the finish of the surface.
  • Cleansers made for cleaning the inside of your toilet bowl are often too harsh to be used for other surfaces, so make sure you restrict use to their intended purpose. In-tank cleansers provide cleaning chemicals every time the toilet is flushed.
  • Use a degreaser to remove soap scum and rust removers to get rid of rust stains.
  • Use cleaners containing sequestrants to remove lime scale and other minerals.
  • Clean frequently to prevent buildup of mold, mildew, mineral deposits and other hard-to-remove substances.
  • Brass cleaners come in handy for brass faucets and other fixtures.
  • Preventing buildup of soap scum, mineral deposits and hard water stains is easier than removing them once they've set in.
  • Long-handled toilet brushes allow you to clean farther down into the trap.
  • Grout brushes come in handy for cleaning around faucets and other fixtures as well as the edges of sinks and in between tiles.

Cleaning Tips & Tools

Whether you're cleaning the kitchen or the bathroom, make sure you have proper ventilation. Open windows or use overhead fans to keep air circulating. If neither is available, set up a fan to push fumes out while you're working.

Safety: Avoid mixing chemicals together, as some, such as ammonia and acid, can react to create dangerous fumes.

  • Bleach is an effective cleanser, but it may alter the color of the surface it's used on.
  • Refrain from using abrasive cleansers on acrylic surfaces as well as metal faucets and taps and other delicate areas.
  • Don't forget to clean the toilet handle, as it's a place that germs often build up.
  • Wipe up spills in the microwave immediately to prevent them from hardening.
  • Powders are often more abrasive than other forms of cleaners.
  • One way of preventing mold and mildew from forming in the shower is by keeping a small squeegee handy. Use it to wipe down the walls when you're done showering. By doing so, you'll minimize buildup and make cleaning easier.